Ford has officially launched SHE-MOVES (Strengthen Her: Mobilising Ventures for Social Innovation), a programme from Ford Motor Company and its philanthropic arm, the Ford Fund, which supports social enterprises that benefit women and children, and promotes access to sustainable mobility.
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]HE-MOVES is administered by the non-profit organisation (NPO) Global Water Challenge, with additional projects launched in partnership with World Vision International and Virginia Commonwealth University. Combining philanthropy with social enterprise incubation models, SHE-MOVES aims to drive positive change in line with five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including: good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and affordable and clean energy.
“Through the concept of Whole-Person Leadership, SHE-MOVES provides female entrepreneurs and beneficiaries with opportunities to promote better health, develop tools for critical thinking, and activate their ideas within their communities,” says Neale Hill, Managing Director, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.
Ford selected a handful of grantees for the inaugural SHE-MOVES programme across Nigeria, South Africa, and India.
According to the 2017 Global Gender Gap report, Nigeria has a serious gender gap to address. In an effort to help narrow this gap, and provide more women with an equal opportunity to flourish in the work environment, SHE-MOVES has awarded a grant to Shuttlers – a woman-owned, app-based, affordable ride-sharing service in Lagos. The SHE-MOVES Shuttlers Project will provide specialized shuttles along a frequently travelled route, whilst facilitating a customised on-board learning experience for at least 600 women. Over the course of a year, they will have access to mentorship and training by means of mobile devices, to help them develop essential job skills, and enhance their potential for career growth. Riders travel in safe, comfortable, air-conditioned 12-15-seater buses, with free Wi-Fi, and also have the opportunity to network with a community of professionals.
For many children with disabilities and special needs, especially those in impoverished areas, stigma often excludes them from local schools, and their communities. In South Africa, SHE-MOVES has partnered with the Uhambo Foundation – a Cape Town-based and women-led NPO who work tirelessly to reduce the inequalities and barriers to participation faced by these children. The foundation aims to equip physically-impaired children with assistive mobility devices, and provide the mothers and caregivers of all disabled children with an essential support network of services, as well as access to skills development and empowerment opportunities. Ford has donated a Tourneo Custom people mover van to support Uhambo in their ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for those in need of assistance, and build a more inclusive society.
In partnership with Zaclon India Limited, SHE-MOVES will train more than 40 women to operate and maintain vehicles, supporting job placement. They will also receive instruction in self-defence and personal safety, and access to a counsellor to facilitate Whole-Person Leadership development. In partnership with World Vision India, SHE-MOVES will also provide critical health and education services to more than 40,000 people in and around Chennai, through mobile libraries and medical clinics.
Committed to communities
“As businesses, we have an important role to play in the wellbeing and sustainability of society, and Ford remains committed to the ongoing empowerment and upliftment of the communities in which we operate,” says Hill. “For us to be associated with high-impact programmes like SHE-MOVES, which make such a meaningful difference in people’s lives, is truly an honour and a privilege.”
“Through grants awarded by the Ford Fund, vehicle donations, and wide range of employee volunteer programmes, like our annual Global Caring Month in September, we are able to bolster our efforts to transform our business so that we, too, behave more like a social enterprise,” he concludes.